As the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th president of the United States draws inexorably closer, the current occupant of the White House appears to be losing his grip on political reality.
Long-standing, hard-line Republicans in the Senate including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham, the South Carolina firebrand, accept the findings of the Electoral College that Biden won by 306 to 232 votes.
Confined to the White House other than escaping for golf at one of his resorts. Trump has surrounded himself with true believers who remain glued to his contention that the presidential election was marked by fraud and that really, he had a “massive win”.
The process of government has been shunted aside. There’s barely a mention of the Covid-19 pandemic which has now claimed more than 320,000 deaths – far more than World War II combat deaths.
More than one commentator has invoked images of the last days in the Fuhrer’s bunker in Berlin in May 1945.
Trump has even shot down his two closest Cabinet secretaries – Mike Pompeo at State and Attorney General Bill Barr.
He dismissed Pompeo’s statement that Russia was behind the massive cyber attack on US government agencies and the private sector. Tweeting, he implied the Chinese might be to blame – and perhaps the Chinese also hacked into voting machines during the election.
He called on Barr to appoint special counsels to inquire into voting fraud (Barr had already dismissed this claim) and to the business affairs of Joe’s son Biden. In a memorable line at his last news conference on Monday, Barr said, “If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool and was appropriate, I would name one, but I haven’t, and I’m not going to.”
The Trump campaign has lost nearly 40 court cases, two of them in the Supreme Court, but his close pals Rudi Giuliani and Sidney Powell continue to hunt new rabbit holes. In some of Powell’s more bizarre claims, the late Venezuelan dictator Hugh Chavez was somehow linked into the case.
The Washington Post reports that with his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud rejected by dozens of judges and GOP leaders, Trump has turned to a “ragtag group of conspiracy theorists, media-hungry lawyers and other political misfits in a desperate attempt to hold on to power after his election loss. The president’s orbit has grown more extreme as his more mainstream allies, including Attorney General William P Barr, have declined to endorse his increasingly radical plans to overturn the will of the voters.”
Trump’s team gathered in the Oval Office on Friday for a meeting that lasted more than four hours and included discussion of tactics ranging from imposing martial law in swing states to seizing voting machines through executive fiat. The meeting exploded into shouting matches as outside advisers and White House aides clashed over the lack of a cohesive strategy and disagreed about the constitutionality of some of the proposed solution, the Post reported.
Now, according to several news sources, the White House team hopes that Trump, wife Melania and son Barron will decamp to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and leave them and the conspiracists and their theories alone, at least until January 4 when he is due in Georgia to campaign for the Republicans in the run-off election for the two Georgia senate seats. If these are lost, the Democrats will win control of the upper house. Even one seat would still leave the GOP in control given the casting vote of the vice president.